Iluminados por el Fuego, directed by Tristan Bauer, was the most popular film at the festival, which is the oldest and most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world. The story of the psychological scars suffered by a soldier who fought in the Falklands won a special jury award. Critics and writers said it was among several films more deserving of the top prize than Something Like Happiness, the winning Czech entry, directed by Bohdan Slama. The female lead, Ana Geislerova, was also judged best actress.
Woody Allen's latest, Match Point, unusually set in London rather than Manhattan, was well-received. But with no American competitive entries this year, the festival was heavy on independent films and co-productions from Europe and Latin America, including A Cock and Bull Story, directed by Britain's Michael Winterbottom, and Tideland, from the former Monty Python member, Terry Gilliam.
The highlight of this year's 53rd San Sebastian festival was a tribute to the late US filmmaker Robert Wise, who directed the classic 1960s musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music. He died of heart failure a day before the festival opened.